The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority met to discuss transportation challenges for the area’s suburban communities. CTRMA Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein discussed how driverless vehicles and ride booking apps are changing transportation. Heiligenstein said Austin should put more money into transformation infrastructure. Particularly, smarter roads need to be built to serve the demands of a rapidly growing population, especially in suburbs such as Williamson County.
“Try expanding those capacities. It’s getting to a point where, the corridors we have remaining, we need to make them smarter, more efficient and more technically advanced,” Heiligenstein said.
ArgoDesign’s Jared Ficklin is a product designer, and he has previously proposed an aerial gondola system to alleviate congestion. Ficklin suggested that policymakers should prepare for future transportation needs by overhauling building and land-use codes. Ficklin painted a vivid picture of a future parking garage with levels an inch taller than the cars. These garages would have charging stations on one level and a service station on another. Current codes do not allow for any of these innovations.
Mike Heiligenstein is the executive director of the CTRMA. The CTRMA is an independent government agency, created in 2002 in order to revamp the transportation network for the area. Current and future projects are part of a planned, multi-tiered system to meet the needs of this fast-growing region.
Heiligenstein was a founding member of the CTRMA and directed its first project. Initiative 183A is one of the first projects in the U.S. to move to a fully-automatic, cash-free toll collection policy. The Mobility Authority opened the Manor Expressway project, is currently building express lanes on the MoPac Loop 1, and is studying several other proposed expressways across Central Texas.
Heiligenstein is president of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. He also serves on an advisory board at Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Before taking a leadership role at the CTRMA, Heiligenstein served in public offices in Williamson County for 23 years.
The Mobility Authority was operates under the Texas Transportation Code Chapter 370. It is sanctioned by state law to implement transportation systems such as roadways, airports, seaports and transit services. It is authorized to issue bonds to be used to fund projects and use fees and taxes to fund projects and to repay issued bonds.